Inspiring the next generation
One of the things that stood out for our judges as they visited the shortlisted projects in this year’s Living Countryside Awards, was how seriously many of them took inspiring the next generation.
Not only were lots of the projects engaging with young people but they were doing so in a wide range of ways.
Engaging children with the great outdoors
At Harrold-Odell Country Park the team support school groups with activities such as pond dipping, map skills, willow weaving and bug hunting. The Friends group has also produced an I Spot book for families to buy, encouraging children to ‘spot’ wildlife as well as wood carvings and other features. The children can accumulate points, awarding themselves a bronze, silver or gold star at the end depending on how many points they get. A new activity booklet for older children has just been launched which features brass rubbing, puzzles and colouring.
For Master Thatcher Chris Dodson passing on knowledge to the next generation is an important part of his work. Training apprentices in all aspects of thatching, including practical skills and knowledge, helps ensure that the craft remains alive. Chris says “This love of rural craft, thatching and associated industries being passed on, is what will help preserve the countryside for the future generations.”
Inclusive Farm’s ethos is to encourage people with disabilities and additional needs to start careers in agriculture. Students are given the opportunity to learn practical skills such as animal husbandry in a working environment. Projects like this are key to diversifying the farming sector.
Arts and crafts
Aragon Lacemakers have started two Young Lacemakers groups, one in Flitwick and one in Bedford. They began by holding workshops and some of the children who took part went on to join their monthly Young Lacemaker Groups. Media coverage following the launch of the group’s lacemaking display at The Higgins led to more young people taking an interest and discovering a relaxing hobby. Through the Young Lacemaker Groups, Aragon members are passing on their skills and knowledge to next generation, keeping the craft alive and introducing children to an activity that can have a positive impact on their wellbeing.
Learning about farming
Barton Hill farm see education as a key part of their environmental work. The farm has been involved in STEM Week at several local schools and took a fleet of tractors to show the children. The schools overlook the farm’s fields, so they could explain the link between what the children could see growing in the fields, and what they eat at home. Whizz Middleton from Barton Hill Farm told us “They were amazed at how many foods we could all think of that contain ingredients that could have come from our farm and they were then determined to go home to rifle through their cupboards to tell their parents!”
Warden Abbey Vineyard work with St John’s Special School, a local school where many of the pupils have severe and complex learning difficulties. Students attend for a few weeks a year and build up their confidence in meeting people and carrying out tasks which are new to them, carefully overseen by mentors from the volunteer body. Last summer, three bug hotels were installed as part of a project with the students.
The projects we’ve highlighted here just scratch the surface of the work being done with schools and communities across Bedfordshire.